Munster 25 Leinster 11: Faultless O'Gara puts the boot into arch-rivals Leinster

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The Independent Online

Ronan O'Gara cracked over five second-half penalties to help Munster to an encouraging 25-11 win over arch-rivals Leinster in the Magners League yesterday.

In front of a bumper Thomond Park crowd Munster's front eight strangled the life out of the Leinster forwards, forcing the mistakes which allowed the man of the match O'Gara to kick the hosts to their fifth straight win.

A lack of discipline up front left Leinster chasing the game in the second half after the full-back Girvan Dempsey's electrifying 19th-minute try had given them an 8-7 lead. But Munster ground their way to glory as only they know how, thanks to O'Gara's 100 per cent kicking display, in which he grabbed a personal haul of 20 points.

With Felipe Contepomi's knee injury keeping him on the bench, the Ireland Under-21s fly-half Jonathan Sexton was handed his first start for Leinster and he did not disappoint in a furious opening. The St Mary's College clubman fired over a fifth-minute penalty to put the visitors in front.

However, a clash between the flanker Keith Gleeson and the Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer soon reduced Leinster to 14 men as the former walked for his part in it.

Without him, Leinster struggled and after 13 minutes they gave away a penalty try as their scrum was completely steamrollered by the dominant Munster pack.

O'Gara's conversion nudged his team in front yet Leinster, with Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy controlling the midfield battle, bounced back when, off a set scrum, Denis Hickie broke in off the left flank on a diagonal run and offloaded to let Dempsey to charge over for a brilliant score.

Sexton could not deliver the extras and while O'Gara, landing his first penalty, punished some indiscipline from the Leinster pack coming up to the break, a silly yellow card for the hooker Frankie Sheahan and Sexton's second penalty left Munster a man short and an 11-10 deficit to overhaul for the second half.

Almost immediately though, O'Gara pinged Munster in front three minutes into the second half.

Worryingly for both Leinster and Ireland, Dempsey was then helped off the field after sustaining a nasty-looking leg injury.

The peerless O'Gara continued to find his range with his place kicks - he walloped over after 52, 61 and 78 minutes to put the hosts into a double-score lead and his sixth penalty success in injury time only served to rub salt into Leinster's already gaping wounds.

Munster: Tries Penalty; Conversion O'Gara; Penalties O'Gara 6. Leinster: Tries Dempsey; Penalties Sexton 2.

Munster: S Payne; J Kelly, B Murphy, T Halstead, I Dowling; R O'Gara, P Stringer; F Pucciariello (D Hurley, 63), F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, J O'Sullivan (J Coughlan, 78), P Wallace, D Leamy.

Leinster: G Dempsey (Kearney, 47); S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, D Hickie; J Sexton (F Contepomi, 68), G Easterby (C Whitaker, 63); R McCormack, B Jackman, S Wright (F Pala'amo, 68), T Hogan (O Finegan, 29), M O'Kelly, S Keogh (C Jowitt, 58), K Gleeson, J Heaslip.

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).

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